Storage Space and NFTs - How Does the Medium Affect the Message?

Marshall McLuhan's "Medium is the Message" has been the dominant ethos for Web2, the media, and the art world for quite some time now. The 3 camps often fight each other over status games, but they're all really part of the same coin if you look closely enough.

People have been talking about 22' being the year of the Music NFT, but I do think there's a bigger thing going on - it's where the "medium is the message" ethos is finally going to be challenged by the ethos of Web3. And it will start with music and nowhere else, here's why:

Web2 - which has already hit its peak as tech talent continues to migrate towards Web3 and crypto projects - built many massive data centers to cement their lead on high-bandwidth applications like video sharing and livestreaming. That's their lasting legacy, if anything, imo.

Musicians responded to these trends by going into music video (it's hard to be a pure audio musician these days) or by focusing on high-fidelity sound files as a way to maintain its "value" against the entropy of right-click-save infinite supply. Did it work?

Not at all - musicians' cut gets diluted heavily with video productions and listeners did not really respond to the idea of hi-def audio files. And with the last line of income streams (live music) disrupted by COVID, musicians' means of earning income is severely limited right now.

The two approaches above, however, is still a continuation of "the Medium is the Message" mantra because it does not place its value in what's being "said", only in the packaging its framed around. Think the Kardashians (also MitM) that basically has no meaning, but for music. (The mantra there is tempting for some since it releases them from the burden of having anything to say.)

So Web3 is an opportunity to move away from that, but it will be very difficult culturally speaking because MitM is so everywhere that only the biggest contrarians will even understand what it means to go against this massive machine. Most NFT projects so far, does not.

Course the less people who understand, the bigger the opportunity, which is why I think that the Music NFTs have the potential to create new leaders and influencers out of the blue, not currently associated with the incumbents right now. They're going to "come out of nowhere".

It won't be any of the big companies, VCs, tech leaders, CEOs, or any of the "famous" people we know and are familiar with. That's going to scare some people, and delight others. But either way, it's going to be genuinely new because that's what is required to move the needle.

There's also some dissonance right now between the main media consumption habits of Web2 (video) and Web3 (low-res pics) - most of this has to do with file size and bandwidth limitations of IPFS - notice there's no NFTs of long videos right now? It's just not tenable atm.

STORJ and Filecoin have potential to create a streamlined, decentralized file system using IPFS as a backbone, but they're not developed enough right now to compete against the massive data centers Web2 companies are running right now.

This had the effect of hitting the "reset" button on Big Data trends towards the idea of smaller and more efficient usage of storage as a whole. Music NFTs finds itself somewhere in the middle of low-res pics and massive video files so it's an ideal place to experiment, in a way.

It sucks that the music industry is basically in shambles at this point, but it's also an opportunity to rebuild it bigger and better this time, with the artists' long-term incentives actually in mind. But it is as much of a cultural revolution as it is a technical one...and for Web3 to really work, the two things really need to be working together, in cooperation, towards a common goal. And I do think that the ones that un-silo themselves and see the bigger picture are the ones that will take the cake.

But again, we have to treat "the medium is the message" as a failed movement at this point and start to listen - really listen - to what artworks have been "saying" and expressing the last few decades and realize that the signs of today were always there, from the beginning.

Art appreciation is a skill - and one that is seldom taught, even in higher education right now. But it is something that anyone can pick up if they take the idea of understanding art in a deeper way seriously. It is also what will make NFT buyers successful, imo. 🎨

I'm still bullish on crypto. Tezos has the artistic talent. Ethereum has the technical and financial acumen. Dogecoin has the mass appeal. It's like a big puzzle that needs to be put together. The pieces are there already, it just needs to be put together in a big Web3. 🕸️


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